I love all holidays, even those without extreme lawn decorations and merchandising extravagandas. Labor Day is the third and last of the summer picnic holidays, popular only because it is traditionally recognized as the end of summer. It invites family and neighbohood gatherings, enjoying the “last,” halcyon day of outdoor recreation and the accompanying fiesta.

In my book, Maisie’s List, Peter Hunter and his children are pushed reluctantly into the community celebrations by his office manager, Caroline. It had been one of Maisie’s favorite days, and she organized a pet fashion show in honor of Peter’s veterinary clinic that was a highly anticipated event every year. Caroline took over all of the arrangements, saying that the best way to honor Maisie was to enjoy life the way she always did.

What Peter does love is the picnic pot luck pulled together by his office staff:
Peter anchored the staff picnic by providing buckets of fried chicken, and everybody else brought their favorite side dish. Tech Lynn, who was vegan, always brought a vegetable tray and fruit. Tech Patrick, the grill master, brought barbecued beef and roasted corn. Peter’s part-time vet, Dr. Park, contributed homemade veggie dumplings so that Lynn could partake, and her tech, Samantha, brought potato salad. Caroline was well-known as the consummate baker, so she always contributed a stellar dessert. By the time they added in their families, their total group came to a respectable fifteen, but there was always plenty of food.

I’m going to assume (since she is my character) that Samantha makes her potato salad using my recipe, and I thought I’d share it. The key ingredient is Durkee’s Famous Sauce. It’s a little bit mayonnaise and a little bit mustard with a dash of vinegar for tang.

In the mustard section of the grocery store

Durkee’s Potato Salad
baking potatoes (I use 1 per person up to about 6)
Olive oil
diced pimentos
Cut the potatoes into quarters and boil them until you can poke them easily with a fork. Let them cool. Cut them into cubes and put them in a big mixing bowl.
Mix the dressing in a separate bowl, 2/3 mayonnaise to 1/3 Durkees (It’s really to taste but that’s a good start. Durkees can be a very strong flavor.) I’m not specifying the measurement because it depends on how many potatoes you use. Add in a tablespoon or so of olive oil and some pimentoes. Mix the dressing into the potatoes. Voila! (It’s even better if it sits for a few hours or overnight.)

Caroline’s contribution to the feast is a container of brownies that leave Peter in a state of culinary bliss. I’ll share that recipe too, because people crave my brownies as well.

Renamed Caroline’s Brownies!

Deep Dish Brownies
3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease square 8x8x2 pan. In a medium mixing bowl, blend melted butter, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs; beat well with a spoon. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to egg mixture until well-blended. Stir in chips; spread in prepared pan. Bake 40-45 minutes until brownies begin to pull away from the side of the pan, or a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely and cut into squares. (Advice: Mix it by hand with a spoon instead of with a mixer, and only stir it until it’s mixed, about 50-70 strokes.)

I’ve never written anything that didn’t have food front and center as part of the setting, so I have plenty of other recipes to contribute from other parts of Maisie’s List. Check-in often for more installments.

Maisie’s List world-wide release is October 12! Available at all major online retailers including Amazon, Nook, Ibooks, Google and Kobo. Pre-order from Amazon and Barnes and Noble now!


One response to “Do You Love Picnic Food?”

  1. Savoring Sixty and Beyond Avatar

    I have now inserted your name in front of each recipe name so I will remember from whom they originated. I will be trying both of these over the next week or two. Thanks for sharing and double Yummy!! I will be checking in for more installments. Can’t wait for the book to come out ~ keep me posted on this as well.


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